Prior to the 2009 season, we identified 10 prospects to watch in the Dodgers farm system. Of those 10, six remain on the 2010 list.
Scott Elbert, LHP: It might seem like Elbert's been around forever, but the 2004 first-rounder is still just 24. Fully healthy in 2009, he rode the shuttle between Triple-A Albuquerque and Los Angeles several times and even landed on a postseason roster. He won't be on the big league roster to start the season -- he got sent down from big league camp on March 15 -- but he'll be in the rotation with the Isotopes and ready for whatever role the Dodgers may have for him during 2010.
Dee Gordon, SS: Tom Gordon's son is a rare breed: a toolsy prospect with tremendous upside who started fulfilling his potential almost immediately. Gordon didn't seem to have too much trouble during his first full season, ending as the Midwest League's co-MVP and the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year. Gordon swiped an astounding 73 bases (and got caught 25 times) while hitting .301 for the year. He's just scratching the surface of his talent. He's going to improve his stolen-base success rate and his defense at shortstop, and he should even hit for more power as he matures. The jump to Inland Empire should be an interesting one to watch with Gordon, who will turn 22 in April.
Andrew Lambo, OF: While his numbers in Double-A weren't outstanding -- .256/.311/.407 -- it should be noted he played nearly the entire season at age 20. He hit very well in the Arizona Fall League (.330/.365/.484), and there's still much to like about his short, left-handed stroke and his ability to hit to all fields. He hasn't shown a ton of home run power yet, though he did hit 39 doubles in 2009, and some of those should turn into long balls as he matures. He'll never be a Gold Glover in left field, but he's capable, and there's always the option of going to first base, a position he's played in the past. Even if he goes back to Double-A, he's still only be 21 when he opens the season there.
Josh Lindblom, RHP: He nearly made the big league club as a reliever in his first Spring Training a year ago, then went down to Double-A as a starter. He moved up to Triple-A and came out of the bullpen, a role he had when he was at Purdue. He had another strong spring this year, drawing praise from manager Joe Torre along the way. The 2008 draftee is not yet on the 40-man roster, but look for him to be added at some point during the 2010 season. He's going to begin the year as a starter but could be called upon to help out the Dodgers in either role.
Ethan Martin, RHP: Overall, it was a very solid first full season for the Dodgers' 2008 first-round pick. Martin, who didn't pitch his first summer because of a knee injury, struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings, which would have placed him fourth in the Minors had he pitched enough innings to qualify. He only gave up 85 hits over 100 innings, but he's going to have to cut down on the walks (61). Considering he won't turn 21 until June, he's right about where he should be. He'll move up a level, and how he refines his command and his secondary pitches will go a long way toward dictating how quickly he climbs the ladder.
Chris Withrow, RHP: The hope was that Withrow would stay healthy in 2009 and begin to show the promise that made him the 20th overall pick in the 2007 Draft. Mission accomplished. The young right-hander began the season with Class A Advanced Inland Empire and finished it with Double-A Chattanooga at the age of 20. Combined, he struck out 131 batters over 113 2/3 innings and seemed to be getting stronger late in the year. He has three average or better Major League pitches. Withrow looks like he's put the injury issues behind him and could make a beeline for Los Angeles, starting with a return to Double-A to kick off the 2010 season.
These four players were on our 2009 list but are not on the 2010 list, due to the loss of rookie status, poor performance, injury, the addition of other prospects to the list, etc.
Josh Bell, 3B: Bell was having a very solid 2009 campaign with Double-A Chattanooga, making the Southern League All-Star team in the process, when he was included in the deal with the Orioles that brought George Sherrill to the Dodgers. Bell continued to hit well with his new organization and in the Arizona Fall League. Dodger fans who hoped to see him as a big league third baseman might be able to do so in Baltimore by 2011.
Austin Gallagher, 3B/1B: It looked like Gallagher was way ahead of the curve after he performed so well as a teenager in the Class A Advanced California League in 2008. But last year, he got hurt and managed to hit just .257/.319/.345 in 226 at-bats down a level with Great Lakes. The problem with his shoulder limited him to first base and DH duty, so it remains to be seen if he'll be able to return to third base. Just 21, there's still time for him to develop his raw power and become the corner infielder the Dodgers hoped he'd be.
James McDonald, RHP: McDonald made six starts in Triple-A in 2009 but spent most of the season in the Los Angeles bullpen, where he finished with a 4.00 ERA in 63 total innings. He made four starts in the bigs initially but was more effective as a reliever, finishing with a 2.72 ERA in 41 appearances. He'll begin the year in Triple-A, most likely in the rotation so he can throw as many innings as possible.
Xavier Paul, OF: The 2009 season was a lost one for Paul in many respects. While he did make his big league debut in May after hitting .408 in April for Triple-A Albuquerque, he first had a staph infection, then hurt his ankle and eventually landed on the 60-day disabled list. He's had a good spring and could put himself back in the same position he was a year ago, trying to force his way into the big league outfield rotation.
Prospects to watch
|Josh Bell, 3B||Ivan DeJesus, SS|
|Scott Elbert, LHP||Scott Elbert, LHP|
|Austin Gallagher, 3B/1B||Dee Gordon, SS|
|Dee Gordon, SS||Garrett Gould, RHP|
|Andrew Lambo, OF||Andrew Lambo, OF|
|Josh Lindblom, RHP||Josh Lindblom, RHP|
|Ethan Martin, RHP||Ethan Martin, RHP|
|James McDonald, RHP||Aaron Miller, LHP|
|Xavier Paul, OF||Trayvon Robinson, OF|
|Chris Withrow, RHP||Chris Withrow, RHP|
The following four players are new additions to the Dodgers Prospects to Watch list.
Ivan DeJesus, SS: It was almost unfair to not have DeJesus on the list a year ago, since the reason for removing him was injury-related. The talented shortstop missed almost all of the 2009 season after breaking his leg in Spring Training. He did make it back for a handful of rookie-level games in August, then got in 10 games of Winter ball in Puerto Rico. He was added to the 40-man roster during the offseason. When healthy, DeJesus is a solid defender with terrific instincts and a great approach at the plate. He'll make up for lost time in Triple-A this season.
Garrett Gould, RHP: The Kansas high schooler rose up draft boards late last spring, and, though the Dodgers took him in the second round, they gave him end-of-first-round money to sign. He made just a few appearances in the Pioneer League last summer, not enough to show what he's capable of. Gould had one of the best curveballs in the Draft last year, and he combines it with an excellent fastball and a feel for a changeup. He's just what the Dodgers love, a big, athletic and projectable right-hander. If he follows the usual plan, he'll make his full-season debut with Great Lakes this year.
Aaron Miller, LHP: A standout two-way player at Baylor, the Dodgers took him as a pitcher in the supplemental first-round last June. Considering he's relatively inexperienced on the mound, it was impressive that he pitched well for Great Lakes, particularly in the postseason, last summer. A terrific athlete who played the outfield in college, it will be interesting to see what Miller can do now that he's had an offseason to focus solely on pitching. It could come together quickly for the southpaw, and he could be ready for the bigs in a hurry.
Trayvon Robinson, OF: After breaking out with a .306/.375/.500 line with 43 stolen bases at Inland Empire, Robinson earned a promotion to Double-A and a spot on the Dodgers' 40-man roster. His speed plays well on the bases and in center field. The switch-hitter started showing some legitimate pop in 2009 (17 combined homers and 57 extra-base hits), but he'll need to cut down on the strikeouts (143) as he moves up. He'll probably head back to Double-A Chattanooga to start the season. There he'll get the chance to show that his 2009 campaign wasn't an aberration.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.